Four journalists who were fired by the SABC have expressed their excitement about going back to work after their dismissal was found to be unlawful.
The Labour Court ruled today that the four must be reinstated with immediate effect.
The journalists – four of the so-called #SABC8 – were fired after voicing their concerns about the SABC’s decision to ban visuals of violent protests.
RSG executive editor Foeta Krige, senior journalist Suna Venter, SAfm current affairs executive producer Krivani Pillay and senior investigative journalist Jacques Steenkamp filed an urgent application to have their dismissals by the public broadcaster set aside by the Labour Court. The four were represented by trade union Solidarity.
Judge Robert Lagrange presided over the matter and said they were entitled to return to work and that the SABC was interdicted from proceeding with the disciplinary hearings before they were dismissed.
“This is a solid win. Solidarity and each of the applicants joins South Africa in sharing the delight with the ruling. We knew all along that we will win as our case was morally and juristically justified,” said Dr Dirk Hermann, Solidarity’s chief executive.
“Our members can now return to work to do what they are passionate about and that is to serve the public by providing information to them,” Hermann added.
Pillay thanked the media fraternity and the public for their continued support and expressed her excitement at getting back to work.
Venter expressed similar sentiments but pointed out that the job is still not done.
“A verdict that says you can go back to work does not solve the problem. One of the arguments we made [in the affidavit] was that there are certain relationships within the newsroom that through this very ordeal have been permanently damaged.
“To go back and repair relationships and trust would be the ideal. We will have to put in a little bit of work and selflessness into that,” Venter said.
“Just because we have this win today doesn’t necessarily mean the workers are going back into tolerable conditions,” added Sekoetlane Phamodi, the National Coordinator of SOS Coalition.
“The issues go deeper than just Mr Motsoeneng as a key problem in the matter. He symbolises structural rot and decay inside of the SABC. Mr Motsoeneng must leave the SABC ... the SABC cannot work with him at the helm,” Phamodi said.
The other journalists who were dismissed last week were Thandeka Gqubule, Busisiwe Ntuli and Lukhanyo Calata.
Freelancer Vuyo Mvoku filed papers in the High Court in Johannesburg on Friday, asking for an order that the SABC’s decision not to “schedule” him constitutes a breach of contract.